One of a Kind
Big Al Downing
Steve Ekblad
October 30, 2003

"ONE OF A KIND" is the perfect name for Big Al Downing's new CD! Born in 1940, this music veteran's recording and performing career dates back to his early teens bringing the count of his performing years to over 50! I like to describe him to my friends as Johnnie Taylor meets Delbert McClinton with an even bigger smile. During his formative years he worked on a farm while listening to country and rhythm and blues radio stations. This musical influence shines brightly through in this wonderful CD. You can feel the years of experience in his voice as he works through 14 tracks. His music crosses the paths of country, rhythm and blues, rockabilly, and pure Americana.


The opening track, "Home Town America", is a country ballad acknowledging the wonder of America and recognizing the veterans who have made the USA free. In another artists hand this song would lose the sincerity and passion of the message that he delivers with conviction and warmth.


A perfect country tune is delivered with gusto in "A Cigarette, A Bottle And A Jukebox". Jimmy Clarke on pedal steel and fiddle gives the tune just with right flavor with perfect turnarounds and fills. Telling the wows of love lost, Big Al suggests that he needs to smoke and drink till he gets her off his mind.


"Talking The Talk" is a rhythm and blues tune with a terrific arrangement that measures up with the best I have heard. His smooth voice has an uncanny ability to reach out on top of the music and tell the story. The horns are played out in a classic soul arrangement with slippery guitar and bass. It is a tune that will receive a lot of play if he gets the exposure he deserves.


"I'm Too Green To Be Blue" talks about different colors of mankind and how he wishes everyone was red so love could easily overcome these dissimilarities that separate men. This bluesy tune tells us to let love overcome our differences.


Get on your dancing shoes for "Boogie-Woogie Roll"! Big Al shakes the house with this driving tune. I can only imagine the whole audience is up and dancing when he performs this live. I have to tap with both feet as I write and listen!


The Caribbean influenced "Goodbye My Love" shows Big Al's flexibility as he stretches out on this wonderful tune. His ability to meld his voice to any arrangement makes the arrangement so comfortable--as if this island tune was his regular vocal deportment.


"What A Man Will Do (A Woman Will Too)" is a huge country ballad. The warm keyboard and guitar cry the ballad with him. He warns the listener that if they fool around, their cheated partner will be doing the same thing.


You can read more about Big Al Downing at the web site of his label, Platinum Express Records. This is a CD that will grace my player often. This was also a tough revue to pen since I found my writing constantly distracted by the involving music of Big Al Downing. I had to force myself to concentrate on getting this into words! Now that I am finished, I will have the pleasure of listening to Big Al without the worry of getting this to you! Pick yourself up a copy and enjoy Big Al Downing's musical smile! See if you can do anything beyond tapping your feet and smiling while enjoying "One Of A Kind"!

Original review is at: http://audiogrid.com/downing/